If you are wondering if historic or listed buildings are right for you, this article will help give you an idea of what buying historic or listed buildings entail. If you have any further queries or would like to book a survey, please email us or call on 01376 573877 and we’ll be happy to help.
When a historic or listed property is viewed one may be seduced by its charms, a beautiful countryside or old town setting, timber beaming, old red brick or stone finishes, perhaps with fires in the grates and low lighting giving a feeling of permanence and timelessness. Life has continued on in the house, the steps and yard for hundreds of years, long before the car and modern technology, if you are like me, just for a moment you might feel a link to a simpler and less hurried and more parochial past.
However before you buy it, and even before a survey is carried out some thought should be undertaken. Historic or Listed Buildings span hundreds of years and are a patchwork of the original build, repairs, extensions and adaptations. The materials used were often not the best for the function but local materials, clay, timber and stone which could be locally sourced and used. The builders were often not specialists but farm labourers, tradesman or just practical people at a time when life was more practical.
In the past people were poorer and works were not carried out to modern standards, if they failed they may have just been done again in the same way. In all but the finest buildings, buildings were not so well maintained with missing tiles and deteriorating thatch (Look at historical photographs to see evidence of this) minor water ingress could go on for decades affecting the structure of the building.
The buildings may have layers of refurbishment one over the other with modern refurbishments using inappropriate materials being the most harmful, trapping moisture in the structure causing future hidden decay.
The surveyor who carries out your survey will look for the tell-tale signs of these issues but some may be undetectable without opening up works. You will be taking on a responsibility, with these buildings you will be a tenant rather than an owner preserving the property for future generations.
The cost of maintenance will be higher than for conventional buildings and often more regular, the materials and contractors will be more expensive, you will have to seek consent for even, sometimes minor repairs and may not get consent for improvements that you want to carry out.
One the positive side you will be living in a beautiful building often with a beautiful setting rather than a modern estate house, and the experi ence could enhance you and your family’s life.
For example as a child I grew up in 1960/70’s estate housing and an ancient rural Rectory, we rarely remember the estate housing but the Rectory is discussed at most family gatherings.
Gerry Dolden MRICSS Nebosh Cert. Director of G Dolden & Associates Ltd.